Syracuse football is not going to a bowl game. Mark it down right now. Forget those holiday travel plans to exotic locales like Birmingham and the Bronx. It’s over, because the ’10 Orange season will end next weekend in Pittsburgh. Not that this team is playing as though it deserves a chance at the postseason, but the ugly loss to Cincinnati stamped this team as D.O.A.
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At the moment the Orange is 5-6, 1-5 in the Big East. A win would technically make this team bowl eligible, but that’s only lipstick on a pig. Syracuse will finish at best with just two league wins. As long as USF wins next weekend, Syracuse will finish in last place of the the Big East. The Bulls also have only one league win, but hold the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Most importantly, there won’t be enough bowl slots for SU even with a victory. Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia and Cincinnati will all get bowl invites. That leaves potentially two more Big East slots (not all of the league’s bowl tie-ins are guaranteed), while the Champs Sports Bowl can take Notre Dame. Pitt and UConn already have three league wins, and will finish ahead of the Orange. The death blow? Every team above .500 must be selected for a bowl game before a 6-6 team does.
SU is destined for no better than 7th in a mediocre 8-team Big East, which is completely unacceptable for Year 3 of the Marrone Era. A loss or a Bulls win means it’s the basement of the worst AQ conference in America for the Orange.
The loss to the Bearcats was more of the same. A lethargic first half, a lackluster offensive effort, and a handful of big plays given up by the defense. The Orange couldn’t muster a touchdown until 43 ticks left in the 3rd quarter. The offensive line was leaky, SU was just 4-15 on 3rd down and once again gave the half-empty Dome almost nothing to cheer for.
Is the Orange regressing? It certainly seems so. There’s almost no excuse to finish near last place in a middling Big East. While last season may be chalked up to a magical season where everything fell into place, and one glorious night vs. WVU could be simply an anomaly, there’s no explanation for the current four-game losing skid. Louisville, UConn, USF, and Cincy were all winnable games and the Orange was beaten soundly in three of those. The offense remains remarkably stagnant, and the squad continues to lack the emotion it played with last season.
Marrone sounded devastated after the loss, and rightfully so. We know he cares, but sympathy is not enough to wash away a miserable season. If we celebrate Marrone for the successes, we must also critique the losing. The Orange has taken a large step backward this season. And no matter what happens next week, SU will likely be home for the holidays.